Kahekili Beach Park

Drive-up snorkeling convenience on a wonderful, less-than-crowded resort beach.

Rating: ★★★★½

In a nutshell: Drive-up snorkeling convenience on a wonderful, less-than-crowded resort beach.
Minuses: The plus is the minus: ocean entry directly onto reef.
Sound-bite: “Welcome to McSnorkels, may I take your order?”

The reef is right there, visible from the beach.

The reef is right there, visible from the beach.

This beach is the Northern most beach in the Ka’anapali Beach Resort, but is less crowded and commercialized than its sister to the South, Ka’anapali Beach. Kahekili Beach is long, there are ample facilities – and like most Ka’anapali beaches, Kahekili does not disappoint.

A popular place to learn SCUBA

This is my absolute favorite beach to take those “not-so-strong swimmers” or first-time snorkelers to. The reef comes right up to the shore here – and the surf is typically mild. Since snorkelers don’t have to swim into deeper waters, or close to shallow/partially exposed rock, snorkeling here is as easy as it gets: you just dive in, and you’re right there.

Kahekili Beach Park is also a favorite place for diving outfits to take beginning divers. An easy walk-in right from the beach, and the area is relatively shallow as far as diving goes.


King Kahekili Nui ’Ahumanu

This beach is named for the last King of the Maui empire: King Kahekili Nui ‘Ahumanu.

An absolutely fearsome and ruthless leader, half of Kahekili’s body was tattooed entirely black so that he would match the description of his namesake, Kāne-Hekili, the Hawaiian God of thunder…

Host Culture


Besides a wide array of fish, there are also loads of green sea turtles that frequent the entire Ka’anapali area. If you spend any significant time snorkeling (or just looking for them from your perch the beach) you’re bound to encounter them, and they are always a favorite.

During whale season, whales can typically be observed from the beach, breaching and frolicking. Even if you can’t see them, this is one of many perfect locations where you will almost always hear them. All you need to do is slip under the water and be absolutely silent for a moment.

The biggest minus here is the same as the biggest plus: since the reef starts right at the ocean’s edge, tentatively wading in to test the waters isn’t going to be a pleasure. For the stretch of beach fronting the pavilion, much of the entry is not sandy-bottomed for more than the first couple steps step or two, so you’ll definitely want to fully commit (start swimming/floating immediately upon entry!)

A popular place to learn SCUBA

Now, if a beautiful sandy entry is all you need to seal the deal, a short stroll towards the Black Rock end of this beach (south/left side) delivers. The south side of this beach mirrors the perfection of Ka’anapali Beach, with less crowds. Wow – with all that love, you’ll soon see why many locals skip right over Ka’anapali Beach in favor of Kahekili. (Note: during winter storms the south end of Kahekili beach can sometimes have exposed lava-rock at the entry to the ocean.)

Key Info:
Location: Kai Ala Dr. @ 25.1 mile marker of Honoapi’ilani Hwy (Hwy 30)
GPS Coordinates: 20.93670,-156.69171
Facilities: Restrooms, water, picnic tables, covered pavilion area, bbq’s, showers, lawn.
Get directions

View Kahekili Beach Park in a larger map

  1. Alex says:

    For any surfers here on this comment page, I have found some really good waves at this beach. If you go to the right of the Duke’s Beach House you will see large waves. If you ever consider surfing here, there are no life guards, the reef is pretty sharp, and the reef could be nearly dry or four feet deep. I have seen a small range of surfer and body boarders. If you do try out this beach for surfing, as long as you know what you are doing, you will have a fun time. The safest conditions are when the tide is high. The best way to tell if the tide is going to be high is after a rainy day and it’s 4-6PM.
    Best of Luck!

  2. Patricia says:


    In regards to Kahekili Beach Pavillion, after reading these comments., I am hearing the pavilion is first come first serve, yes? I did see someone who who had a party hanging up a sign…. I remember when this place was the old airport.



  3. This was my favorite part of our Hawaiian vacation. The beach was really nice and had restrooms and free parking. You literally walked in and saw fish, other sea creatures, turtle(s) and even a manta ray. If you don’t being snorkel equipment with you there are lots of places to reasonably rent it.

  4. Far and away our favorite spot – close to where we are staying, easy access, plenty of parking, shower/restroom/drinking fountain. Great variety of sea life for snorkeling.

  5. We would like to have a multigenerational family gathering there. Do know if the pavilion can be reserved?
    Thank you.

      • Felicia says:

        Hi Mark,
        We are also looking to use the pavilion for a party. Is there a website or phone number where I can view more information about time arrangements, alcohol consumption, setting up tents and chairs.

        Thank you!

      • It is very informal. First come – first served. Alcohol is OK at most beach parks, pretty sure this one included. Tents chairs all OK.

  6. Hello, we are visiting Maui in August all the way from the uk! Looking forward to visiting Kahekili beach for a spot of snorkelling is the parking easy to find and is it free?
    Thanks in advance

  7. Dina says:

    This is MY FAVORITE Beach in Maui!!!!!!!! I’ve been to Maui MANY, MANY times and this is the Most Beautiful Beach!

  8. Kahekeli Park shoreline has tested positive for Wastewater containing sewage.
    The EPA is fining Maui County for their wastewater from the County sewer treatment plant across the street,
    You can google more info with Sierra Club, Earth Trust and Federal court records.
    This is s=extremely sad news for this area.

    • Do you know if this has been clear d up? We hope to go there mid September 2016.

      • This will not be cleared up as the wastewater injection wells are just up the road and the geology of the area transports the water to this reef area. The effluent is tertiarily treated using UV pannels (disinfection treatment), which control for many pathogens, but not all, and toxicants are not addressed at all. There is much effort in this direction, but the reality is that anything people put down their drains is coming out here. You won’t see it, save for the blurriness of the fresh water seeps. The water is clear. There is a daily longshore current that carries this water away for the most part. But it does not stop flowing. And lots of people still swim here, including myself.

  9. Aloha Mark,
    Happy to have found your new Maui Guide Book for our Best Hawaii Vacation blog visitors.

    Your post and photos about the Best Maui Beaches is right on: Maui vacation information visitors are looking for.

    I might take you up on your offer and include one or two Maui beach photos on our Hawaii vacation blog. I will definitely give you credit and let you know when I do so.

    Great feedback on Kahekeli Beach Park! It sounds very similar to our Mauna Lani Beach Club on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island: not crowded, white sand but the coral reef is very close to shore. Perfect for snorkeling. No walking in barefoot recommended!

    Will stay in touch with your Maui blog articles. Feel free to direct message me on Twitter @PuaHawaii.

    Aloha, Pua
    Best Hawaii Vacation Blog

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